I don’t like Google. I don’t want that to be a secret. That distaste hasn’t existed forever.
For years Google has been my friend. I was one of those people who almost never used the address bar in my browser. I typed whatever I was looking for into the Google search bar, even if I was looking for Facebook or YouTube.
When Gmail came out, I jumped on it. It was, and probably still is, the best webmail client out there. I wrote tens of thousands of emails — literally; my email account alone reached over 5GB of data — on Gmail.com. I was one of those people that kept “Beta” tag even after Google finally removed it from the logo. I was one of those people that tried Buzz. And Wave. And +.
For lack of a better term, I was a bona fide Googler.
Then Google began to unravel. The last twelve months’ headlines have been dominated by privacy scandals and search degradation. One need look no further than Search Plus Your World. When these first stories began to hit, I brushed them off. I wouldn’t hear any of it. Google was awesome, I couldn’t possibly be true, could it?
Then I discovered a little Google utility called Dashboard. On one single webpage, Google has brought together every single bit of information it’s collected about you over the years. It’s a lot. It’s stuff I didn’t remember doing; it’s stuff i wouldnt want public; most of it is stuff I can’t delete.
That right there was enough for me. I was done with Google.
Here’s the problem: Google’s business model isn’t built to please me. I’m not the customer, I’m the product. Advertisers are their customers. They’re selling me. Sure, doing so allows them to give me profesionally-built applications for free. But you know what? I don’t care. Charge me. I’ll take paid over shady any day of the week.
That day, I committed to eliminating Google from my Internet life. That’s not as easy as it sounds. My policy was soon ammended with an “as much as possible”.
I pulled all my 5GB of email messages down from Gmail’s servers and migrated to Apple’s iCloud. I downloaded my YouTube videos to my harddrive. I cleared my Web History and everything else that Google would allow, and then deleted my account.
There were a few Google services that I unfortunately still required, so I did have to create new account. I use that account only for Reader and YouTube, so I can only hope that I have limited Google’s grasp on me just a little bit.
Not for a second do I believe that Google actually deleted all of my data. I’m sure it’s still up their, harbored cozily in Big Brother’s cloud. Plus, I know I made a bunch of other Google accounts that I’ve since forgotten about, and I’m sure each of them has little snippets of me being broadcasted.
Honestly, I wish I’d never signed up with Google in the first place. I was naive. It’s too late for me. I’ve done all I can, but I still don’t feel safe.